TO HYPHENATE OR NOT TO HYPHENATE, THAT IS THE QUESTION BY K J ROLLINSON

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Do you know the rules that govern hyphenated words? I didn’t know when I began writing. I relied on my ‘instinct’ or a dictionary and online information to guide me. Gradually, I came aware that there are distinct rules.

I was dithering whether to put foot or feet – when I was describing my protagonist in my latest book ‘Where Lies My Heart’ – whether to put six feet tall or six foot tall. Evidently, it doesn’t matter whether you use foot or feet, BUT the rules change, dependent whether you use feet or foot.

When it functions as an adjective phrase before a noun you use the singular form and hyphenate it – six-foot-tall. If the description comes after a verb you don’t use hyphens and use the plural form – six feet tall.

When we refer to a twelve-year-old boy, the hyphens follow the rule for one-thought adjectives…

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